Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Gladstone Aquatic Therapy Association’

Interview with Pool Manager – 10th Mar 2011 …

Hi all,

I had some good news yesterday (10th Mar) – it was not from the Council – Council made contact last night after I had written this post – I agreed to delay its upload pending a discussion about the content of the post and what is contained in a letter advised as being sent yesterday …

As relates to the positive news before the Acting CEO messaged last night:

I sat with the Hervey Bay Pool Manager yesterday – Paul – the meet went for over an hour and we talked about the FCATA program and in particular access times available, and the indoor and outdoor heated pools – Paul was happy to provide his own feedback.

Several weeks ago – during late January – Ms Debra Moore had told me not to talk to the Pool Manager about this program – I respected that directive up to recent events when Ms Moore and other Council employees refused to return calls or respond to E-Mails –

This meeting with the Pool Manager was very open and candid – firstly –

The Pool Managers Equity Position:

This subject was broached as a result of some allegations presented to me that needed to be confirm – I first contacted Mr Sorensen’s office – and he suggested I contact Council or ask direct questions of the Acting CEO – Lisa Desmond.  Council did not respond on specific questions put to them on this matter.

I then approached the Pool Manager to get his account first hand – something the Council did not do – and from Ms Desmond late response last night – she has not been able to gain any information about the matter anyway in fact I was able to inform her about what she was trying to find out.

Paul first took on the Hervey Bay pool lease in 1995 – for 3 years – the 50m pool, the wading pool, and the current building block were already built when he took on this lease.  He again renewed the lease for another 3 years in 1998 – and during this second term – Council gave him permission to do pool renovations at his own cost.

He built what is now the ‘indoor learn to swim’ facility – improved the wading pool with all the games and slides that are currently part of that pool section, and he also installed all the shading that is currently visible.  His outlay for these renovations was $200,000.

Some 5 years ago – he did a deal with the Council to rescind his equity position and applied for the Pool manager position – he was successful in his application and now draws a contract wage as the Pool Manager and a sees himself as a Council employee.

His charge is to run the pool as its manager and draws no bonus nor other income from any pool asset or pool activity.

Paul was happy to volunteer all this information to clear up certain information that was made known to me.  The third party who provided that information has been update with relevance to this conversation and to clarify their understanding and hopefully be wary of the future quality of information distributed.

Secondly – The Learn to Swim Question:

I had previously approached Council at our 21st Feb meeting to get the reasons why a Hervey Bay Carer Group Learn to Swim program for disabled clients they were funding was refused access to the Indoor Heated pool.

This question was raised with Ms Desmond – the acting CEO – with three other Councillors – and another Council employee – Ms Debra Moore in attendance.  Before Ms Desmond could respond to the question – Ms Moore cut into the conversation and made the following statement:

‘That is a confidential matter between the Council and the Carer Group – I will be talking to the Carer group to try and resolve the matter.’

I accepted that statement from Ms Moore at face value and did not pursue it further.

When I spoke to the Carer after the meeting to update them – and in follow up conversations about the program – the Carer Group advised they have had no further contact with Council about this matter. They also confirmed that they have had no formal notice from Council as to why the Learn to Swim program was denied access.

Why did Ms Moore tell a deliberate untruth at that meeting on this issue – why has she not followed it up with the Carer Group as she advised?

10 days or so ago – I sent a message to Ms Desmond following up the 21st meeting discussions to find out about what progress had been made on the ‘pool access’ issue.

She responded – see previous post for copy of her response – I sent another message over the weekend and that message has yet to be responded to -[response received late yesterday evening].   Because of this delay and the continued non response to phone calls to Ms Moore and Mr Smith – I made the decision to seek a conversation with the Pool Manager about his views concerning the FCATA program.

The Pool Manager indicated that perhaps one of the reasons Council have been slow to respond to any of the matters raised in the latest message to Ms Desmond – is that none of the current staff were around when all of Paul’s lease/Pool Manager transition happened.

Paul also emphasised that currently – he carries out the Council’s pool price policy and his two operational concerns are that the pool functions smoothly and provides for the residents of Hervey Bay – and that pool safety is a priority.

Thirdly – Pensioner Discounts:

Paul and I disagree on this Council’s ‘non existent concession card’ pool admission price policy – we have disagreed on this point for as long as I have been trying to get Council to address their discriminate policy.  It is just a difference of opinion and I will continue to try and convince him otherwise.

Paul’s position on any pool admission discount comes from his days as a Pool Lease holder – any reduced cost on admission prices would directly eat into his revenue streams – now that his position is a Pool Manager – he is charged to run the pool to a Council Budget – those discounted revenue pressures are no longer something that he is overtly concerned with in his current position.

The Hervey Bay pool Budget:

The Hervey Bay pool budget for 2009-10 and the forecast for 2010-11 can be viewed as a .pdf file by opening the linked file below:

H_Bay Pool Operational Budget Pools (2) – In essence it breaks down to this:

____________________________________________________________________________

Hervey Bay Pool Operational Budget: Original Budget 2009/10 Amended Budget 2009/10 Actuals 2009/10 Budget 2010/11
Total Operating Income $472,000 $472,000 $642,172 $657,000
Total Operating Expenses -$730,551 -$730,511 -$770,194 -$924,500
Net Operational -$258,551 -$258,511 -$128,022 -$267,500

_____________________________________________________________________________

To summarise further – the Fraser Coast Regional Council structured a Budget for 2009-10 for the pool to run at an operational loss of $258,551 – and the 2010-11 deficit is forecast at a  $267,500 shortfall.

The Council accepts the pool loses money on a yearly operational basis – yet when they were approached for ‘concession card’ discounts that would have cost a forecast $1000-$1500 in Sept ’10 – the Councillors collectivelly voted on the motion and said ‘NO’.

The FCRC pool budget has forecast subsidises to the general public entry costs to a value of $258k and $267k over last years and next years budgets – yet when approached for ‘concession card discounts’ – the Council were not prepared to make any offer that would reduce the ‘concession card’ admission costs below those of the General Public.

Some History of the ‘Concession Card’ discount application:

This decision was a collective choice made by all Councillors when they unanimously voted not to review the ‘concession card’ discount request at their Aug ’10 meeting.

I responded to the Council’s vote in September with a report that contained information that refuted the information contained in their own report produced by Council staff – no outside advice was sought in compiling this report – this report has proved to be factually erroneous and misleadingly so – it suited the Council’s needs to ‘shut me up’.

I sent my review of the Council produced report to ‘All-Councillors’ – the Mayor’s Secretary contacted me immediatly and arrange for me to meet with him – that was in late Sept ’10 – he sat down with me with – Andy Gaze and – Peter Smith – and I gave them the factual evidence that contradicted the Council’s report – at the end of that meeting the Mayor shook my hand – looked me in the eye and gave me an undertaking that he was going to ‘do something to fix the problem’.  I took him at his word and believed that would be movement by the Council on the ‘concession card’ price policy.

That ‘something’ came a few weeks later when – Mr Peter Smith (Director Community Development) – rang me with the Mayor’s proposal/offer –

The MAyor was prepared to offer in that I personally – could now pay the annual ‘GENERAL PUBLIC’ fee on a monthly basis – just so long as I did it at the Council Chambers and not at the pool.

Talk about a ‘DUTCH” gift.  As if I was seeking a personal response – it was insultive and showed a complete lack of respect for the efforts I had put in trying to convince the Council they were wrong in their pool pricing policy.

The Pool Manager told me this same deal was already available at the pool for any season ticket buyer …

Mr Kruger’s offer was a ‘Scrooge’ effort and paid no respect to my approach to have this matter dealt with.  The Mayor then call me ‘disrespectful’ when in a response to one of my message I wrote after hearing of his proposal he commented as follows:

From: Jenni Oort [mailto:Jenni.Oort@frasercoast.qld.gov.au] On Behalf Of Mick Kruger
Sent: Wednesday, 22 December 2010 11:26 AM
To: ******
Subject: RE: Pool Season Ticket prices for Concession Card Holders

Hi Ian,

Thankyou for your e-mail of 22nd December 2010 relating to Pool Season Ticket prices for concession card holders.   The contents of your e-mail is unacceptable in its present form for reasons of the foul display of courtesy.

cheers

Mick Kruger

I never used ‘disparaging or foul’ language – the message called a ‘spade a spade’ and is available it anyone wants to have a read.

This level of ‘meanness’ demonstrated by this Council in not addressing the ‘concession card’ discount issue – is born from people who should never be in a position to lead or make decisions about a Communities needs and wants.

Supporting matters presented to Council during this period and since to try and appeal to their sense of civic duty include:

  • FCRC is the only researched Council between Brisbane and Mackay who does not offer ‘concession card’ discounts across all pool admission prices for Council Managed pools –  click on the file link here: pool stats to see a spreadsheet outlining all the pools admission prices researched …
  • FCRC currently offer concession card discounts to the – Brolga Theatre – on there Council rates – Maryborough and Hervey Bay shows – the Bus contract was issues under a Council tender and concession card users get discounts.
  • In addition most local business offer a pensioner discount – Movie Theatre – trades services – yard cleanup services – Electricity suppliers – Meals on Wheels – there are a host of community conscious business and sole operators out there who offer discounts for services to pensioners or concession card holders – but not the FCRC when it comes to their pool admission price policy.
  • I have not been the only one who has raised this issue with Council – a number of Carer groups have also had a problem – carers have to pay to attend to their charges when they enter the pool –  whether they get in the pool or not –

Council are just wrong in their position on this issue –

The FCATA program was born from the research undertaken to refute the Council’s own report presented at their August meeting – from that came the discovery of the Gladstone Aquatic Therapy program (GATA)  – it is a aqua-therapy program that has been in operation for 20+ years – learning about the program has given me motivation and insight to just what can be done by a community when they get behind a program that improves the quality of life for so many disadvantaged persons.

You may ask what all this past history has to do with the proposed new FCATA program – well nothing really other than the history of how Council have bumbled their way through this issue is a reminded that history matters when trying to understand why current and future decisions are made.

Council have a closed mind mentality to this matter and it needs to be exposed to make them accountable to their community.

The Mayor wants to run again next year – the information contained hereto gives some insight into how committed the Mayor is about helping the disabled and pensioner group living in this area.

The Gladstone Aquatic Therapy program:

GATA currently receive HACC funding for their program – in addition the Gladstone Council also provide $40,000 worth of free pool time – and they also allow any person with  a ‘concession card’ to attend the pool between 8-9 am – Mon – Fri – free of charge

To help with the growth of the program – they also added special amenities for the participants of the program.  It took the Council a few years to embrace the program – reasons for the Councils eventual involvement were many – one of those reasons is a little known fact about a Gladstone Councillor who had a child – or a relative – who become part of the program – that seemed to get the Councils attention and as they say – it grew from there when the results proved to all concerned what could be done with aqua therapy.

All it takes is a little vision on behalf of those who are ignorant to a situation – leaders who embrace that type of vision are few and far between – any concession I have had from the FCRC has been earned whilst they still resist being dragged toward a decision they know they will have to make – pride and stubbornness is the Council’s problem on this matter.

The FCRC response:

The Gladstone Councils commitment to their GATA program makes this Council look like ‘Scrooge’ types –

With their pronounced ignorance – all hidden behind a stubbornness and a lack of compassion and understanding to how persons with mobility issues struggle to live on a pension – one would think they would view and try to support self-help efforts to join a aqua program to get exercise and improve their mobility.

I have tee’d off here and I believe it is justified – I challenge the Council to come to the first General Meeting of the FCATA to be held in a few weeks and gain some first hand knowledge about the program.  To date I have only received responses from 3 councillors to messages sent to ‘All Councillors’ e-mail addresses – they all get it but from the responses received – only 2-3 think it important enough to respond.

The demographics between Gladstone and Fraser Coast on this issue and for the targeted group for the FCATA looks like this:

________________________________________________________________________

Data Information: Fraser Coast Region Gladstone Region
Regional Area Population: 99,514 (2009) 59,644 (2009)
Persons 55+ living in area: 28,021 (2010) (28.16%) 9,226 (2010) (15.47%)
Disability Pen’s living in area: 5,388 (2009) (  5.41%) 1,121 (2009) (  1.81%)
Aged Pensioners living in area: 13,148 (2009) (13.21%) 2,907 (2009) (  4.87%)
People receiving ‘CARER’ assist: 1,327 (2009) ( 1.33%) 201 (2009) (  0.34%)
Participants in GATA: 100

________________________________________________________________________

Source information for this table came from:

http://www.frasercoast.qld.gov.au/c/document_library/get_file?p_l_id=97185&folderId=1410927&name=DLFE-28750.pdf

http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/3235.02009?OpenDocument

http://www.ausstats.abs.gov.au/ausstats/nrpmaps.nsf/NEW+GmapPages/national+regional+profile?opendocument

http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@nrp.nsf/Latestproducts/315073222Economy12005-2009?opendocument&tabname=Summary&prodno=315073222&issue=2005-2009

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

FCRC have no logical or factual foundation response to the data that promotes this debate – the continued ‘no response’ from Council to the matters raised in the last 2-4 weeks demonstrate their lack of understanding on any policy formulation in how to deal with what has been asked of them.  The recent CEO resignation may have left a void – but the Acting CEO seems capable and she wants the top job – but even she seems to have left this program sunbathing on a rock … nothing from her since midday Sunday when the message was sent – [update – a message was received late yesterday evening and after this post was written.]

Pool Access:

The Pool Manager talked openly about the Hervey Bay pool and its current pool commitments and how he could accommodate pool access for the program.  He indicated that Council had recently asked him about pool usage but gave no detail to him about the FCATA program or its request details for pool access.  I outlined the requests made of Council and they were:

  • Free access to the Hervey Bay and Maryborough pools between 7:30 – 9:00am Monday – Friday for Tier 2 and 3 accessed FCATA members –
  • Free Pool availability between 9:00 – 12:00 noon for Tier 1 FCATA members for both pools – 3 days in one center and 2 days in the other one week – and reversed the following week –  he obviously could not speak for Maryborough Pool access.

The pool Manager said the pool was generally free of public usage between 7:30 and 9:00 am Mon – Fri – and he saw no issue with allowing pool access during these times – this could be the heated 25m and/or the 50m pools during Summer.  Schools don’t have access until 9:15 am and Club and other squad training is done by 7:30 am.

I have had no discussions with the Maryborough Pool Management regards access – the Maryborough Swimming Club have not responded since I asked them for a copy of the Maryborough pool Budget in January.  The Council speak for this pool as well.

Paul did mentioned that the Indoor heated pool is used for learn to swim classes up to 11:00 am weekday mornings.  He said it would be available for the program from 11:00 – 3:30 pm if that suited the FCATA program.  This is a matter for further discussions – it is hoped that the outdoor heated pool will suffice.  Paul’s advice was that if the Tier 1’s are not that active in the outdoor heated pool – they will get cold – this advice was welcome.

It is necessary to link the Tier 2 & 3 access together with the Tier 1 – a number of the Tier 2 and 3’s will stay on after their 7:30 -9:00 session to help with the Tier 1’s.

Summary:

These discussions continued to be open and cordially – Paul gave every indication that he had no problem with ‘pool access’ requirements for this program.

His primary concern – and this relates to why the Carer learn to swim program was denied access – was that the pool currently offers certain services that are operated by outside agents – i.e. private physio sessions and private water aerobics sessions – both these functions provide services the Pool cannot currently accommodate.

The Carer Learn to Swim program was a conflict to existing Learn to Swim classes already conducted by the pool staff.   Many disabled children attend these classes – and on this point – Paul is creditable in his explanation – the issue of disabled seniors and learn to swim classes is a different matter and one that he would have to consider.

The question is why did Ms Moore from Council mislead me about following up with the Carer Group – and try to withhold this simple information from becoming publicly known?

Council are acting as if they are stuck in the ‘hares glare’ – they cannot see a way to solve this self made mess:

  • They must be aware of the aged and disabled demographics of their community –
  • they must know that any self help program will help alleviate the strains and stresses already in play on the regions health services –
  • they know that the aged care business in this area drives a significant amount of employment and commerce in the region –
  • all these reasons and more and still the Council stays silent –

Whatever bunker they are hiding in is surely damaged – whoever is advising them must be youthful and without disability or aged care understanding – the Council must consider and provide for its residents –

I want to thank the Pool Manager for his time and openness – it was refreshing to speak to a Council employee who showed real interest in hearing the full vision for this program.

For now we must all continue to wait until someone with enough knowledge, and creditability get ahead of this matter as opposed to the continued lag and negative responses being offered … this Community is crying out for a program like this – Council should be pro-active and leading the momentum for this program as a part response to addressing the future health issues facing this community.

Advertisements